There are three pieces to running a successful e-commerce site:
- Attracting customers
- Getting customers to buy
- Retaining customers
For most e-commerce businesses, those first two are not too difficult. However, retention is the hardest, and it also happens to be the most important.
Why is customer retention so critical given the vast pool of potential new customers out there online?
Customer retention is critical because loyal customers keep purchasing from the site, feel a connection to the business, and, maybe most importantly of all, promote the business to others via word of mouth and social media.
Therefore, although it’s still important to always be trying to reach new customers, it’s essential to focus on your existing customer base as a primary goal. Nurturing your relationship with that base is the best way to strengthen and grow the business.
This success starts with a great website. An attractive website that entices people to stay is the foundation of this, of course, but a nice website alone is not enough. The following also need to happen:
- The website needs to reach your target audience where they are. If your target customers use Facebook heavily, you need a strong Facebook presence. If they use Instagram a lot, then you need a prominent presence there. And so on. Where your customers are, you need to be so that they are exposed to you and will visit your site.
- Your website needs to be user-friendly, and the shopping and checkout processes have to be fast, easy, and smooth. Have you ever gotten frustrated with a site and closed it before completing a purchase? Don’t let the same thing happen to you!
- A system for capturing lost opportunities is necessary. Think abandoned carts, queries not followed up on, etc.
At Bold Eye Media, we’ve used our many years of experience in the e-commerce industry to identify 5 important ways for e-commerce sites to attract customers, complete sales, and retain their customers. These are methods that many business owners forget to employ, do not know about, or sometimes just skip.
Method 1: Have Great Product Pages
When people search for a particular product, they more frequently look for the product first as opposed to first visiting a specific site and then looking for the product (unless that site has already built that ever-important loyalty discussed previously).
Therefore, a customer’s first visit to your website is more likely to be to a product page than to your homepage. You might have a great homepage, and you should, but it’s entirely possible that many buyers won’t even see it on their first visit.
People looking for a specific product also tend to be more ready to buy than people making a generic search are. Someone looking to get a particular model of a TV is closer to buying than someone just browsing televisions are. Really good product pages give a customer the confidence to make a purchase.
For these reasons, product pages on your site need to be excellent– a logical title, a great description, good images, an attractive layout, and a clear Call to Action (CTA).
Method 2: Make Brand Pages Available
Many customers have a preference for particular brands, and unless you exclusively sell your own products on your site, you should provide customers pages with brand descriptions and logos (don’t underestimate the ability of familiar visual reassurance to make a customer believe a product is legit), and you should give them the ability to sort products by the brand as well. This also helps with search results and increases the chances that a customer will find your site.
Method 3: Recover Abandoned Carts
This may seem unbelievable, but 70% of carts are abandoned by would-be customers on e-commerce sites. Reasons vary– finding the checkout process frustrating, comparing sites, and getting distracted are among them– but regardless, those are lost sales. Without any attempt to recover those abandoned carts, there is only a small chance of the customer returning on his or her own to complete the purchase.
Fortunately, there are now platforms that can help you recover some of those carts and encourage customers to complete purchases. The recovery rate is typically 5-10%, but that can make a significant difference in the bottom line, and it’s well worth the relatively negligible cost.
The most common path for cart recovery is through email.
Method 4: Use Email Marketing
With so many options available, it’s easy for customers to forget about particular sites and what they’re about. Email marketing is a way to keep your name, brand, values, and products fresh in customers’ minds. Through this, businesses also have a way to generate interest and loyalty, and it’s a great way to promote new offerings, special deals, etc.
It begins with an effective welcome email that makes a great first impression, and it also involves finding the right levels of volume and frequency so that customers don’t get annoyed and remove themselves from your marketing lists.
Method 5: Offer Coupons and Discounts
People love getting a deal, and e-commerce sites that offer coupons or other discounts to new and returning customers stand to make more sales and build a larger customer base. Even loyal customers who don’t mind paying full price most of the time appreciate coupons, rewards, and incentives every now and then.
Offering discounts doesn’t mean you have to fall into the trap of having sales on a frequent basis, which can lead to customers questioning whether they’re really getting a deal or deciding to only buy when things are on sale.
With the right balance, though, coupons are one of the best ways to generate business and encourage customers to promote your site.